... or so the old saying goes. But how does one truly go about anticipating that which is unexpected?! Perhaps "y'all just gotta go with the flow" or "roll with the punches" would be more appropo when you're out there traveling about on the road far from home.
For the past 7 years, I've followed along & empathized with fellow TCers & other RVers here when yall have encountered those "unexpected situations" ... thinking gee that could have been any of us!!
Well now I find that it's my turn to share The Dreaded Tale of UH OH.
After spending 4 awesome days seeing all the sights in & around Yosemite - we were moving down from Upper Pines to Crane Flat CG last Thursday afternoon. Pulling into a tighter site than expected with the utility trailer - we were backing UP to get a better swing angle around the TREES. (Whoever writes those Site Descriptions must have been 1) a travel brochure writer in a past life and 2) never camped a day in their life ... with anything bigger than a tent Yes, we FIT. However as WE all know, TCs along with OTHER RVs are TALL and of course merely trimming the trees & branches to truck cab height doesn't mean that we're not going to do some UNEXPECTED pruning as well!! But I digress.)
So the DH is backing hard uphill with at least a 45 degree slope while I'm out spotting - when hmmm what IS all that stuff running out from under the truck?! Hopefully, I suggest that it's merely water from the AC? More skeptically, the DH pokes a finger in a BIG puddle - and upon closer inspection, determines that it's TRANSMISSION FLUID!! UH OH
And while we're checking to see if we're at least off the road with the tail end of the utility trailer. A large PUFF of smoke billows from under the hood of the truck. UH OH - THAT'S NOT GOOD!! Then the DREADED STINKY SMELL wafts back over us. UH OH THAT'S REALLY NOT GOOD.
Yep - our transmission is cooked ...
What to do?
We decide that we may as well spend the night at Crane Flat and get up at the crack of dawn to call AAA. No use to arrive Wherever after dark and have to scramble for a place to stay?! (Did I mention that we're traveling with a huge pooch & a sweet little kitty!!)
Now most of you know that 45+ degree angles give RV reefers hissy fits. And ours was no exception. We even tried switching it to AC with the genset BUT NOOOO - it just kept blinking & BEEPING away - until we finally had to throw in the towel and turn it off.
Also since sleeping on our heads, wasn't too appealing, I remade the bed in the waning hours of dusk - and then slept fitfully - worrying about what "tomorrow was going to bring" (despite our best efforts to NOT worry. Upon reflection - I think a body is in some state of shock.)
BUT at least - 100 miles of towing coverage with AAA was some comfort. Of course, is anything ever that easy?!
1) Yosemite's insurance doesn't allow them to tow "outside the park". 2) Big Oak Flat doesn't have anyone with a commercial license to tow anything that HEAVY. 3) FINALLY - yay Steve at the AAA towing out of Sonora to the rescue (for more on that part of the story you can read it here on the Open Roads Forums if you're interested.)
OK - as it also turns out - our AAA coverage will ONLY tow the utility trailer to their NEAREST STORAGE facility ... UNLESS you want to PAY to have it towed along with your RV. Hmm 75 miles PLUS from the time the tow leaves his shop to the TIME OF DROP-OFF vs at least $50 A DAY back up at Yosemite Village!! But EVEN IF we have it towed to the Ford Dealership in Sonora - would there be a place to store it there?!
What to do? What to do ...
While we're waiting for over 2 & 1/2 hrs for the TruckCamper tow - we decide to ride down (with the help of a Yosemite garbage guy, we managed to get the BIG Harley unloaded from the trailer - pushing it UP the 45+ degree site slope YIKES!!) and chat with the Ranger at the CG entrance.
Soooo - if you happen to see a HaulMark utility trailer parked forlornly on the side of the entrance road up at Crane Flat CG - that would be ours!! Hopefully it will still be there by THURS/FRI when the Ford Dealership THINKS they may have the truck's NEW TRANSMISSION done?! (Does anyone know anything good or bad about the Sonora Ford Dealership?? We didn't really have too much choice.)
So now that I've written a book - that about sums up "Mr. & Mrs. Boomer's Tale of the Unexpected ... or more aptly titled UH OH - THAT'S NOT GOOD".
Thanks for following along. Please feel free to digress (heaven knows I do more often than not ) The DH is out panning for gold - although it's a sure bet that he won't find enough to cover the new tranny (but at least he/we are having fun, while we're stranded. And hey - we still have TWO wheels. Tomorrow we're off to Murphys & the Wineries and Mercer Caverns Today we went up to Columbia State Historical Park and Mark Twain's cabin (the latter NOT reccommended for RVs).
I actually do have some pixs - but they will have to wait as I don't have a way to download them here.
Sorry to hear about your problem. When you were chating with the ranger , i hope he/she offered to assist you. They are the locals with all the connections that could be put into place for you. The worse feeling is to need help far away from home. As a professional they should realize that and step up to the plate.
I forgot to mention, What transmission do you have? The E4OD? If so, make sure that they replace your Sun Gear/Planetary Carrier with Metal ones. The biggest problem Ford had with that Transmission was having those particular parts fail because they were originally made with aluminum.
2 of the best things you can do to save your tranny in that kind of circumstance are-
-Park the truck, shut it off and let it cool down a bit before doing the big uphill backing maneuver. Where I park my trailers, the lot is on a steep side hill, so all maneuvering on the property is steep. I arrive and shut off the truck for a bit and play with the dogs and horse for a few minutes before moving trailers around. With the tranny starting off a little cooler, instead of already so hot from just being run hard on the road, it takes much more stress to overheat it during the maneuvering.
-If your truck is 4wd, put your transfer case in 4-Low, with the hubs un-locked, before doing your maneuvering. The extra low ratio gearing and torque multiplication of 4-Low makes life much easier on both the engine and transmission. There is no harm in operating in 4wd on pavement, provided the hubs are NOT locked. I do it all the time. Maneuvering on the sloped property is much easier and better controlled with slower speed and greater power/torque of 4-Low helping out. This is a very good reason to have a part-time, manual operated, 4wd truck, even if you have no actual need for the extra off road traction of 4wd.
I've run into that AAA deal about utility trailers. That is the one loophole in AAA coverage that is a drag. But like you, so far, I have managed to deal with the trailer in some fashion or another.
Welcome to the "I've been towed with my truck camper" club. Been there done that 1 or more times in each of my 3 TC's for various reasons, serious (blown engine) and simple (a clogged fuel filter.) Always tried to make the most of it and usually succeed. Where are you now camped? Nice to have the spare vehicle (Harley) even though the trailer added difficulty. At least once (in West Yellowstone) we dropped off the truck for repair, and then rode the dual sport bike back into Yellowstone, ate breakfast at the Old Faithful Inn and sat on the bike while buffalo crossed the road which was a little spooky since they were so close and they are.....so big.
Good News - Bad News ... or UH OH - BACK TO THE SHOP!
Late yesterday afternoon we got the call from the Sonora Ford Dealer that our truck was ready!! They were able to get a rebuilt tranny out of Sacramento with a 3 year unlimited mileage warranty.
Oh happy days
We picked up the truck (with the camper off loaded at the Ford Dealers) and headed out to pick up our utility trailer up at Crane Flat CG in Yosemite (more on that a little later).
We were thrilled and amazed at how QUIET the new diesel tranny was as compared to our old 2000 (which you had to wear earplugs just to hear yourself think ). Everything was going smoothly.
We hitched up the trailer. No problems. And set off to retrace our route back down Hwy 120 to Sonora.
Almost immediately the tranny started to balk at shifting itself up and drag its feet at shifting itself down!! (The utility trailer is a 14' aluminum HaulMark and was empty. Shouldn't have had any trouble at all at any rate.)
We pulled over at the first opportunity and double checked to make sure that they actually put fluid in the new transmission?! Yep - it was full.
At first we thought that it needed to be reprogrammed or adjusted. But honestly, we don't know what to think any more. So we pretty much coasted downhill for most of the way. And made it back to the Dealership!!
LEFT IT THERE AGAIN ... and are at least thankful that we didn't have the CAMPER on AND towing the Harley down from Yosemite!!